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Challenge myths, get the facts about bullying!

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HC Online | 02 Aug 2011, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Author Evelyn M. Field outlines the myths that create and sustain workplace bullying.

  • Bernie Althofer | 02 Aug 2011, 03:47 PM Agree 0
    I think that there are some organisations and some people who would like to deny the magnitude of the problem and this could be for many reasons e.g. lack of data, no formal complaints etc. However, it is fast coming to the time when individual seek litigation as the preferred option and "officers" will have to change their response from Nobody Told Me.
  • Evelyn Field | 08 Aug 2011, 06:47 AM Agree 0
    I agree with Bernie, while Worksafe and other international experts place responsibility upon management to intervene immediately so that bully and target are not discriminated against any further, employers and management deny their responsibilities and blame them. No wonder that profitability is down when bullying is allowed!
  • Bernie Althofer | 08 Aug 2011, 02:08 PM Agree 0
    I think sometimes there is a tendency to beat around the bush and not call a spade a spade. If the majority of people can do the right thing in the workplace and treat others with respect and dignity, and manage to get along with them (even though from time to time they might disagree), why then is a perceived reluctance to address the root cause? Perhaps just as the victim/target becomes a victim of the environment, the alleged bully also becomes a product of the environment (apart from those few who make choices intentionally to 'bully' others), executives need to understand their role in establishing a positive culture. Given the current disparity or gaps that exist in recording the costs of bullying (anywhere from $13 million per year to $874,000,000 or even more in one State) depending on variables such as rate or incidence, costs (from $600 per person per year to $4900 per person per year), or even whether the total cost should be calculated based on the victim/target, the alleged bully and the bystanders/witnesses. I the ideal world, a person who is being subjected to bullying behaviours would be able to tell the other person why they find the behaviours offensive, intimidating and threatening, and the other person would immediately desist and refrain from ever doing it again. We don't live in an ideal world, and we should not be tolerating, condoning or accepting any form of bullying either in the workplace or elsewhere. I was given a great quote today and it was "Sometimes people who need to know are the last to find out". I think that given the disparity in costs, the taxpayers and the general consumers would be absolutely mortified if they realised the costs. I don't think that some executives are being provided with a detailed and accurate picture of how bad the situation is in their organisation, simply because people are not 'reporting' the incidents for a number of reasons. I keep getting told "a bad job is better than no job" so people are suffering in silence, but waiting for a chance when the economy improves. The lack of data does not mean there is nothing going on. It does in my view mean that executives should be more determined to ask the right questions. The problem is that no-one is getting to them to tell them.
  • Sonia Mangelsen | 16 Aug 2011, 11:47 PM Agree 0
    I couldn't agree more with both of you. It is all well and good for the organization to have policy and procedures to address bullying and harrassment in the workplace. The problem is with the application of the strategies by the management. As I was reminded the other week, management are people, individuals with personal responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the target/victim which is enshrined in health and safety legislation. They are accountable to the organization for conducting risk assessment of psychological and personal injury, investigating in a timely manner, and initiating appropriate action to support the victim and remedy the situation. I would urge all bystanders/witnesses to report all incidents and support their victim colleague in the workplace. They certainly need all the help they can get. The dragon is a big one!!!!
  • Bernie Althofer | 19 Aug 2011, 11:36 AM Agree 0
    It is interesting when organisations want to believe that the policies and procedures will save them. It is also interesting when one looks at how people respond to the traditional resolution options that generally start with "Do nothing" and progress through to litigation. Making a decision not to pursue the matter is not something that is taken lightly, nor is the decision to pursue the matter to finality. Feelings of guilt and blame may arise particularly if the bullying behaviours continue. However, for some people taking action means that they may be further traumatised by the ensuing actions. A recent article about blowing the whistle on the conspiracies of silence suggested that there is some 'unholy' alliance between the organisation and the insurance company. This alliance apparently is used to blame the victim rather than make the workplace deal with the problem. This happens when a pre-existing condition in the victim is identified and used against them. Various strategies are used by those involved in 'resolving' an incident, and at times the process can be very brutal unless individuals do some preparation to cope with everything that is thrown at them. I think if we are brutally frank about bullying and harassment, there are times when the victim/target will be hung out to dry as those around them fail to step up to the mark and support them. They too may also be victimised or intimidated for standing up and being a 'whistleblower' and the bully ends up getting off scot free with their behaviours being validated. It appears that current policies and procedures are really not stemming the incident rate (even if there are no 'official' reports being made). Despite organisations introducing a range of policies and procedures to encourage ethical conduct, bringing in Codes of Conduct and the like, there still appears to be situations where victim/targets and the bystanders are 'fearful' of reporting the incidents. Once upon a time, the Australian culture was such that one would come to the aid of a work colleague, but now it seems that in some cases, you are on your own if you want to raise concerns about bullying in the workplace. Perhaps changes to work health and safety legislation will see prosecutions of officers for breaches of work health and safety where psychosocial hazards such as bullying and harassment are involved. So do we feed the sleeping dragon, starve it so that goes elsewhere to hunt, or do we kill the dragon?
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